It’s a dramatic scene in the book of Mark: Jesus is in his final week in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. He has just turned over tables and driven money-changers out of the temple. And he has cursed a fruitless fig tree as an object lesson to his disciples.
The disciples’ amazement at the dried-up and withered fig tree prompted this response:
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
That text hit me hard the other day: Faith and Forgiveness.
Like many of you, we’re running hard at WorkMatters. It’s a demanding and stretching – and exciting – season. There are some things that we really feel God has called us to, but it’s hard to see where the time or capacity will come from.
We pray about these things organizationally, but I realized that there was one issue I was not actually praying about as if I believed He would provide for it, if I was even praying at all.
That’s punch number one: do you really believe God cares about your work? Do you ask Him what His priorities are in your work? Do you pray for Him to deliver on the things to which He has called you?
And then punch number two: forgiveness. Jesus clearly says that if we hold anything against anyone we are to forgive them. And He links that forgiveness to our prayer.
Anything against anyone?
How many times do I pass judgment on someone, or harbor some past slight or hurt? If and when I’m talked over or down to, or feel slighted, how often does my mind stay fixated on that or maybe even let it slide off but without any real heart resolution?
So now there are two issues. Do I really believe that God will answer the prayers He gives me to pray? And have I released anything I am holding against anyone so that my prayers will be effective?
These are tough and penetrating questions, but questions we have to be asking ourselves every day. Are you?
Take five minutes and think: if you really believed God is who He says He is (powerful, good, faithful, just, etc.), what would you pray for in total confidence that He will provide?
Take another moment: are you holding anything against anyone? Whether it was a minor slight in a meeting or a deep hurt, if you’re still thinking about it, you might be holding it against them. Forgive them, knowing that you yourself have been forgiven. Maybe you’ll need to talk them. Maybe not. But in either case you need to forgive them.
And now pray. Ask God to clarify His priorities in your work. Ask God to conform your will and desire to His. Ask Him to provide for that thing on which you need Him to come through. And believe.